CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 24. . . .February 26, 2010
Seventeen-year-old Ria has a great boyfriend, Colin, an adorable little brother, Elliot, and parents who care about her. The problem is, she’s having trouble coming to terms with her parents’ separation. When her dad, a wealthy stockbroker, is reported dead after a plane crash, Ria must confront not only the loss of her father, but also a surge of rumours that her dad died destitute, scamming his loyal customers out of millions of dollars. Ria refuses to believe the rumours about her beloved dad and bolts with her five-year-old brother in tow.
Vicki Grant’s Comeback is another fast-paced suspense story for hi-lo reluctant readers. Grant expertly captures teenage nuances of speech and behaviour (“OMG. Did you hear about Ria’s dad?”). Comeback will appeal to female young adult readers with its portrayal of catty friendships and the charmed love of first romantic relationships. The topic of parental divorce is one with which many teenager readers will relate. Ria’s first-person narration reveals the betrayal and anger that she feels after her parents’ separation and her clear favouritism for her charming father (the kind of father who takes you on lunchtime jaunts in mint-condition 1960s convertibles and uses lingo such as “Let’s blow this pop stand”). Indeed, Ria’s father, Steve, is a bit of a stock character - the flashy and charismatic salesman bordering on sleaziness (or embracing it if you believe the rumours). Ria’s mother, on the other hand, has a deflated and dull disposition, appearing as the character foil to Steve, or at least that’s how the narration of a resentful teenage daughter represents her. Ria’s relationship with her brother is the most engaging connection as it captures the caring bond between two siblings as Ria attempts to function as Elliot’s maternal figure.
After Ria’s sense of abandonment by her mom, Colin, and girlfriends who all believe the stories about her dad’s fraudulent behaviour, Ria turns to Elliot as her sole companion. Ria essentially kidnaps her young brother in a Thelma and Louise-style escape (without the murder). Her efforts to protect Elliot from news of their father and to distract him with games are endearing, but fruitless. Ria soon realizes that running away with Elliot without sufficient food, clothing, or his asthma medication is no way to protect him, and she turns to the only person she can think of for help.
Comeback ends with a shocking twist, but the dénouement in the final chapter is much too quick and leaves the reader with a bittersweet feeling. Although sudden, the less-than-happy ending is a refreshing and realistic change from the many young adult books with idealistic finales. All in all, Comeback is a fast-paced and entertaining read that teachers, librarians, and parents should consider sharing with their reluctant readers.
Meghan Radomske is a student in the Master of Library and Information Studies Program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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